Today we honor and celebrate an award-winning author of books for children and young adults, Jacqueline Woodson. Born in Columbus, OH in 1963, she has won a Coretta Scott King Award (for 2001’s Miracle’s Boys) and has three Newberry Honor books. She is an out lesbian with a profound understanding of the intersections of oppression. The goal of her writing is to make these themes approachable to a young audience. Woodson lists some literary powerhouses as her influences, including James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, and Nikki Giovanni.
Throughout her work, she explores themes of gender, sexual identity, race, and class–I like to think of her Social Worker/Writer!
[I wanted] to write about communities that were familiar to me and people that were familiar to me. I wanted to write about communities of color. I wanted to write about girls. I wanted to write about friendship and all of these things that I felt like were missing in a lot of the books that I read as a child.
Although most of her books are narrated from a female cisgender perspective, she has written fiction with a transgender voice and three books told from a male perspective. Because she writes honest, sometimes painful narratives, her books are often challenged in schools and libraries. Despite the heavy themes, Woodson believes that good fiction, especially for young adult readers, should have some element of hope.
If you love the people you create, you can see the hope there.
She feels this is especially true because effective young adult fiction is much less implicit and more immediate. For more information on this wonderful writer who helps young people see the world through their own lens, visit her website.